Why exposure to fiberglass from a mattress can be dangerous
Since 2007, all manufacturers of mattresses in the U.S. have been required by law to include a fire retardant in their products. While in the past, they would add dangerous chemicals such as formaldehyde and benzene, today, most companies that manufacture inexpensive mattresses add fiberglass as a fire retardant, as it is very cheap.
Few manufacturers use safe fire retardants in their mattresses, such as wool or natural latex, as these alternatives are more expensive.
Environmental Litigation Group takes cases for mattresses purchased from the following manufacturers:
Fiberglass is made of the same glass kitchen glasses and windows are made of, but it is dangerous because it is comprised of sharp, tiny shards of glass that can become embedded in both fabric and skin. Although fiberglass is neither toxic nor carcinogenic, it is extremely irritating, and upon exposure, which can occur via inhalation, skin contact, or ingestion, a person might experience one or more of the following health conditions and symptoms:
The vast majority of problematic mattresses contain fiberglass in their inner layer, and if they have a zipper misleading consumers into thinking it is safe to take to outer cover off, the fiberglass layer will be exposed. Fiberglass particles will come off the mattress with the slightest disturbance, clouding the air and inevitably exposing whoever is in close proximity. The injuries one can experience as a result of fiberglass exposure range from mild to severe. In many cases, the respiratory system is affected, and people will have to use inhalers temporarily or even permanently, whose cost is between $300 and $400 per prescription.
Lastly, the price is one of the telltale signs that a mattress might contain fiberglass. More specifically, if it costs approximately $600 for a queen bed, it most likely has fiberglass as a fire retardant. Furthermore, memory foam mattresses usually contain fiberglass, as memory foam is basically derived from inflammable petroleum products, so it requires strong protection against fire.
Eligibility criteria you have to meet to file a toxic mattress claim
If you own a mattress with fiberglass, regardless of the manufacturer, and experienced injuries or house contamination because of this fire retardant, we advise you to give our legal team a phone call, as you might be eligible to file a claim.
By filing a claim, you request the financial compensation you are entitled to from the negligent company. However, you have to meet the following criteria to qualify for taking legal action:
- you must own a mattress with fiberglass from which fiberglass escaped
- the fiberglass must have injured you or contaminated your home
- you must keep the mattress as evidence in a place where it can no longer harm you
Preparing a product liability claim is a complex and lengthy process, and our attorneys need to take their time to properly file your claim. This will ensure you will receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to.
Other toxic agents that might be lurking in your memory foam mattress
Since not all mattresses are created equal, some can negatively impact your health due to chemical off-gassing, which refers to the release of a gas that was dissolved, trapped, frozen, or absorbed in a material.
Perhaps one of the greatest concerns when it comes to mattresses besides fiberglass is chemical off-gassing. While this issue cannot occur with organic latex mattresses, it can happen with memory foam mattresses or those made of polyurethane foam or other synthetic materials.
Although toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and benzene are used less and less in mattresses as flame retardants, they might still lurk in some cheap mattresses. Exposure to these chemicals has a strong link to cancer, infertility, and neurodevelopmental disorders. If your mattress is off-gassing harmful chemicals, it means that you are breathing in toxins for at least 7 hours every night. Because we sleep for a third of our lives, it is paramount that we opt for a mattress that is beneficial to our health instead of poisoning us in our sleep.
The following are some of the most hazardous chemicals that can be found in mattresses as fire retardants:
- boric acid
- halogenated flame retardants
- volatile organic compounds
- polybrominated diphenyl ethers
- decabromodiphenyl oxide
- vinylidene chloride
Because your mattress can contain both fiberglass and one or more of the above chemicals, it is best to switch to a more expensive one with natural and safe materials as flame retardants. Although you might have to save money for a while to afford a high-quality, non-toxic mattress, this will truly be one of the greatest investments you will make. It is estimated that up to 90% of Americans have flame retardant chemicals in their body, whose source is the very mattresses they sleep on. Consequently, choosing a mattress with natural latex, rayon, or wool as a fire retardant is a wise idea.
A timeline of events and lawsuits concerning mattresses with fiberglass
For over a year, a man from Knoxville has been wondering why his eyes and throat were irritated. Adam Dunn has a menagerie of pets. They are given a bath and preventive products to keep their fur free of ticks and fleas. Despite his efforts, last year, he noticed his animals started to bite their skin, and even his skin became irritated.
He says the irritation is due to his mattress, which contains fiberglass. Dunn bought the king-size Zinus mattress for $360 in April 2018. “I wash my sheets very often,” said Dunn. “As always, I always take off my mattress cover. You just open it up, the zipper is there like any other mattress cover that is put on top of it. So I took it off. There is a small label with care instructions under the large content label. ‘To clean the outer cover of the mattress, stain it, let it air dry,’ it says.”
Because his animals often sleep on the bed, he removed the outer cover of the mattress. The fiberglass is visible under light. “There are only hundreds of thousands of tiny fibers everywhere. They just pop out when you take the cover off,” said Dunn. He has recently joined the class-action lawsuit against Zinus. It claims a flawed design once the cover is removed, exposing the fiberglass, which can result in personal injury and property damage.
Dunn says he needs approximately $25,600 to clean up the damage caused by fiberglass to his house. “They’ll vacuum the walls, the floors. Any hard surface. Everything,” he said.
Signature Design By Ashley claims it manufactures comfortable and breathable memory foam and hybrid mattresses. However, these mattresses contain fiberglass. Their cheapest mattress starts at $144, so it should not be a surprise that the company uses fiberglass in these products. It is worthy of note that only their memory foam and hybrid mattresses contain fiberglass. Furthermore, Nectar, which manufactures only memory foam mattresses, uses fiberglass in these products. The average price for a queen bed mattress is $400, which indicates once again the possibility of it containing fiberglass.
A Nectar mattress owner told her story concerning fiberglass in the product. After spilling water on the mattress, she removed the cover, unaware of the risk of fiberglass exposure. Fiberglass was not mentioned on the label. Even more, Nectar's website has a page explaining that people can remove the cover and wash it if there are deep stains on it, but they still advise against it without explaining why. Shortly after the person took off the cover, their apartment was sparkling with fiberglass, and she began having severe nosebleeds.
When she asked Nectar about the presence of fiberglass in the mattresses, the company's response was, "The FR barrier stock that surrounds the foam is almost 100% fiberglass, but it's not the nasty kind like insulation, if you beat it up and ground it down it might get bad, but under ordinary wear and tear it's completely harmless".
Chandler and Durham filed a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. This happened a month after the spouses and their children had been severely injured by the fiberglass inside their Zinus mattress, and their house had been seriously contaminated with fiberglass. The plaintiffs state that "exposure to glass fibers may cause eye, skin, and upper respiratory tract irritation. Glass fibers that reach the lower part of a person's lungs increases the chances of adverse health effects. Glass fibers that become embedded in human skin may require surgical intervention for removal."
The cost of cleaning a house contaminated with fiberglass can reach tens of thousands of dollars. Experts advise that the residents leave the house until it can be professionally cleaned. Allegedly, the defendants in the class-action lawsuit had previously known about the dangers of taking off the mattress' cover, as they responded to a message board, saying that removing it could jeopardize the systems within the mattress. The family argues that they would not have bought the mattress if they had known about its defective nature.
Zinus, Inc. was founded in 1979 and is among the most popular brands of cheap mattresses in the U.S. Most of their products, including the mattresses, are made in China and Indonesia, and so are most fiberglass-containing mattresses. Among the original defendants were the retailers Amazon.com, eBay, Target, Walmart, and Wayfair. Potential Class Members include: "All persons who purchased an Affected Mattress in the United States, which was manufactured by Zinus and contained glass fibers." The lawsuit against Zinus, Inc. is still ongoing.
In February 2020, a family from Round Rock, Texas, experienced the terror of fiberglass exposure and contamination stemming from their Ashley Furniture mattress. Before going on a trip, they agreed to clean up the house, including the mattress. Michelle Cantrell removed the mattress' cover, and she handled the mattress "not knowing that we were depositing thousands and thousands of shards of fiberglass all over the room and into the air."
While the family was on vacation, the wife said that her skin began itching while wearing a shirt washed together with the mattress' cover. After taking a closer look at the shirt, she noticed shards of glass on it. Although the company offered to replace the mattress free of charge, the incident had already cost the family thousands of dollars.
February 2020 – the news piece "Hidden Hazards" airs on TV
On February 14, 2020, a news piece titled "Hidden Hazards" aired on a TV channel in St. Louis, focusing on "the danger lurking in your mattress." The news story focused on the experience of a family with a Zinus mattress that released a large amount of fiberglass, causing life-threatening injuries to everyone.
Chandler purchased the Zinus mattress from Walmart in the summer of 2019. She alleges the mattress contained a removable cover with a zipper. Furthermore, the woman states that there was a tag on the outer cover – "62% Glass Fibers". However, the tag did not inform the customer that the outer cover should not be removed or that removing the cover would cause fiberglass exposure.
On January 20, 2020, Chandler says she removed the outer cover of her mattress to clean it in the washing machine. While the woman was washing the mattress, her sons were having fun jumping on the mattress, according to her statements. The next day, Durham, her husband, noticed that his skin was irritated and very itchy. Subsequently, he discovered that his entire body was covered with tiny, hard-to-see glass fibers.
The spouses claim they noticed their entire home was filled with little glass pieces. They state that "tiny shards of glass were embedded in all parts of their home, both inside and out, including their clothes, bedding, towels, appliances, carpet, tile, walls, tools, electronics, and inside their cars." The fiberglass release caused the family members to have dermatitis, and Durham has had several shards of glass fiber removed from the back of his neck.
Moreover, the severity of the family's injuries is unknown, as they could have inhaled a significant amount of glass fibers. After discovering the source of the fibers was the mattress, Chandler took it outside. The family had to live in a hotel for a while, as they were unable to return home due to fiberglass contamination. All of these details come from the lawsuit filed by the family the following month.
According to the 2007 safety regulations from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, mattresses are required to contain flame retardants. The purpose of flame retardants is for the mattress to withstand exposure to open fire for a sustained period. While ethical companies use non-toxic flame retardants such as wool, rayon, and latex, manufacturers of cheap mattresses often use extremely toxic chemicals, including boric acid, formaldehyde, melamine, antimony trioxide, vinylidene chloride, and decabromodiphenyl oxide. Exposure to these chemicals has a strong association with multiple cancers.
Other companies that manufacture inexpensive mattresses use fiberglass as a flame retardant. While it is not toxic, it is dangerous, as many mattresses have removable covers that confuse consumers. Once the outer cover is taken off, the inner layer of fiberglass is exposed, and exposure and contamination are bound to occur in nearly all cases. Exposure to fiberglass, which occurs via inhalation, skin contact, and ingestion, can cause serious injuries and health problems, such as eye injuries, allergic reactions, dermatitis, and the aggravation of asthma.
People who experience fiberglass contamination have to pay for the cost of the cleanup themselves
In addition to the serious injuries fiberglass exposure might cause upon removing the cover of a problematic mattress, there is home contamination, which can result in the loss of all the belongings of a family.
When it becomes airborne, fiberglass will cause property damage, which can take a heavy toll on the budget of the family to solve, especially if the members have also experienced injuries related to fiberglass exposure.
The cost of both the treatment for the injuries caused by fiberglass and the professional fiberglass cleanup can be very high.
Furthermore, in a lot of cases, not even professional cleanup teams can remove fiberglass from certain items, especially furniture covered in fabric, drapes, couches, plush toys, and carpets, so the family will have to dispose of these objects. This will further impact their financial situation. Lastly, while fiberglass is being removed from their homes, the owners of problematic mattresses will have to spend a few days in a hotel room if they do not have the option to move in with a family member, a relative, or a friend.
Zinus, Ashley, and Nectar will likely say to consumers affected by fiberglass that they no longer have a warranty because they removed the outer cover of the mattress. This way, the manufacturer steers clear of any responsibility regarding the issue of fiberglass. As a consequence, people whose homes became contaminated with fiberglass or whose health was affected by exposure to it will not receive any financial help from these manufacturers.
Nevertheless, each case is unique, so it might be possible for the company to offer you a replacement mattress or money if fiberglass took a toll on your life. However, your best bet is to file a toxic mattress claim, which will result in significantly more money than a refund. The compensation you will receive from the manufacturer with the help of a lawyer will be able to cover nearly all the damage caused by fiberglass in your life.